Anita Davis

Associate Professor of Psychology
(901) 843-3989

Dr. Anita Davis is a native Memphian with a passion for social justice issues. She has been a member of the Rhodes community for over 20 years and has held various leadership positions. She was the inaugural director of the African American Studies Program for five years, and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for seven years (2008-2015) where her responsibilities included accreditation, curriculum and program assessment, faculty evaluation and mentoring, and supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives.

For the past ten years, Dr. Davis has continued research on student perceptions of the campus climate surrounding diversity and inclusion.  Prior to that her work focused on the role of social support in the lives of adolescent mothers. She teaches courses in Psychology and Urban Studies including intercultural knowledge and competence, multicultural counseling, and research methods.

Dr. Davis is currently on a three-year leave of absence from Rhodes College as she fulfills duties as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS), a consortium of sixteen nationally recognized colleges and universities. Her primary responsibilities are to support member institutions in their collective and individual efforts to advance diversity and inclusion goals on their campuses and in their communities.

Dr. Davis has worked with numerous colleges and non-profit organizations on diversity and inclusion initiatives.  She is a member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Research Interests

  • Improving organizational climate involving diversity and inclusion; includes campuses, Fortune 500 companies, and non-profit sector
  • Understanding the factors that promote resiliency in adolescents and young adults from underrepresented background
  • Examining the development of social justice identities in persons from underrepresented backgrounds

Selected Publications:

*denotes student author

Davis, A. A., Frederick, A., & Wetzel, C. (Forthcoming 2017). Race frames and their impact on the sense of belonging of black students in a college community. In Hortencia, J. (Ed.). Readings in race, ethnicity, and immigration. San Diego, CA: Cognella Publishers.

*Wright, P.A. & Davis, A.A. (2008). Adolescent parenthood through educators’ eyes: Perceptions of worries and provision of support. Urban Education, 42(6), 671-695.

Davis, A. A. (2002). Younger and older African American adolescent mothers’ relationships with their mothers and female peers. Journal of Adolescent Research, 17(5), 491-508.

Davis, A. A., & Rhodes, J. E., & Hamilton-Leaks, J. (1997). When both parents may be a source of support and/or problems: An analysis of pregnant and parenting female African American adolescents’ relationships with their mothers and fathers. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 7(3), 331-348.

Selected Conference Presentations:

Davis, A. A., & Loprete, D. M. (2016, March). Your institution has a required diversity course: Is it working? Poster presented at the 10th Annual Conference of the National Association Diversity Officers in Higher Education, San Francisco, CA.

Davis, A. A., & *Mosah, I. (2016, August). An investigation of the microaggressions women of color experience on a college campus.  Poster presented at the 124th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Denver, CO.

Bremer, T. S., Davis, A. A., & *Mosah, I. (2015, January). Cultivating intercultural knowledge and competence on campus.  Lilly Conference on Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning, Austin, TX.

Davis, A. A., Marx, M., Togunde, D., & Uhrskov, A. (2013, March).  In A. Uhrskov (Chair), Connecting Worlds:  Study Abroad in the 21st Century.  Symposium conducted at the International Educators Workshop, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Davis, A. A., Loprete, D. M., & Wetzel, C. G. (2012, November).  Recruiting, retaining and energizing faculty: How can assessment tools help?  Invited Speakers.  3rd Annual National Conference on Minority Faculty/Staff Recruitment, Las Vegas, NV.




M.A., Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.A. Rhodes College